The film tells the true story of a woman who witnessed the assassination of six Jesuits, their cook, and a teenage girl, by the Salvadorian army in 1989. The murders took place on the campus of the Central American University and shocked the world. Lucia Cerna, who worked as the Jesuits’ housekeeper, was the only eyewitness and the film is based on her account of what happened.
The Jesuits had publicly opposed U.S. support for the corrupt government in El Salvador and the military, which were known for kidnapping, torturing, and killing innocent civilians. The priests often ministered to the rural poor who were caught up in the conflict. For this, they were accused of being communists and supporting rebel groups. This was the reason they were targeted.
After the massacre, Lucia fled the country and made her way to Miami under the protection of the Jesuits, where she was pressured into changing her story by the FBI. She never did. Of the nine men accused of the murders, only two were ever convicted. Jesuits in El Salvador continue to campaign for all the facts to come to light and continue to call for all those responsible to be brought to justice.
Spanish filmmaker, Imanol Uribe, who directed the film, said in a recent interview with Variety magazine: “I was affected deeply when the massacre took place and it’s something that has always stayed with me.”
The matinee screening was shown at the famous Curzon cinema in Mayfair and was attended by Jesuits from the British province of the Society of Jesus, including Fr Damian Howard SJ, the Provincial Superior. Commenting on the film, Fr Damian said:
"It was a powerful film that transported us back to the world of the 1980s and showed what a radical following of the Gospel looked like in a context of injustice and oppression. Lucia’s story makes us ask ourselves what it means to follow Christ with equal commitment and generosity in the very different world we live in today."
After the screening, there was a Vigil Mass in honour of St Ignatius of Loyola at Farm Street Church.
The Ignatian Year marks the 500th anniversary of the spiritual conversion of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. To commemorate his remarkable transition from wayward courtier to Catholic saint, and to encourage others to experience the power of conversion, we put on courses and events throughout the year. You can find out more about these here.
Fr Damian Howard SJ, leader of the British Jesuits, speaks to UCB News
Join us for The Ignatian Year to find out more about our founder, St Ignatius of Loyola.
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Written by a Jesuit and performed by indigenous people